James Bond fans – “Bondies,” as they're called – have been shelling out their bucks, euros, pounds, francs, pesos, dinars, leks, rubles and rupees on all-things-Bond for half a century, ever since Ian Flemings' first 007 thriller Dr. No hit the silver screen. Besides doling out cash at the box office – 23 movies in the genre have been released so far, most recently the huge hit Skyfall – they've also spent a bundle at Bondish tourism attractions around the globe.
Take Britmovietours' popular “James Bond Bus Tour of London.” While rambling around town in a mini-coach you'll check out such sights as the home of Universal Exports (in the films, the hush-hush headquarters of the British Secret Service) and St. Petersburg Square (visited by 007 in Goldeneye). Among many other stops on the tour, you'll stand on the spot where the traffic wardens were splashed in The World is Not Enough. A ticket costs 25 pounds (about US$41).
On the other side of the world, the Thai island of Khao Phing Kan – better known as “James Bond Island” – has been a tourist magnet since Roger Moore had it out with his evil nemesis there in the 1974 blockbuster The Man With the Golden Gun.
Another big draw is the 720-foot-high Contra Dam in the Swiss Alps. Any Bondie can tell you about Pierce Brosnan's breathtaking bungee jump from the dam in the opening scenes of GoldenEye, debuted in 1995.
In northern Greece, Bond-loving tourists jam the ancient Meteora Agia Triada monastery, made famous in the 1981 flick For Your Eyes Only, again starring Moore. Who can forget 007's hair-raising climb up to the soaring, hidden-by-the-clouds summit, and his scary cliffside brush with death (thanks to hanky panky by the villain’s henchman) in the final scenes of the movie?
Closer to the States, the Bahama Islands are riddled with Bondie tourism draws. Like the “Thunderball Grotto” in Exuma Cay seen in the flicks Thunderball (1965) and Never Say Never Again (1983), both starring Sean Connery. And in Nassau, visitors flock to the One & Only Ocean Club, the Casino Royale in the 1967 spy spoof of that name. What a cast: David Niven as 007, backed by the likes of Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Orson Wells and Woody Allen.
Casino Royale moved to Prague in the Czech Republic for the movie's 2006 remake and Daniel Craig's first role as 007. You'll see crowds at landmarks of the film all over town, such as the lavish baroque library of the Strahov Monastery. This time, the “Casino Royale” is in Karlovy Vary, an old spa town – put on the map by Bond – in the country's northwest boonies.
Among other tourism draws off the beaten track is the Himeji Castle in Honshu, Japan (the ninja training school in You Only Live Twice), where Connery learned the martial arts in 1967. Still another is the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant on a remote Swiss mountaintop, the hideaway of Bond's arch nemesis Blofeld in 1969's On His Majesty's Secret Service (starring George Lazenby in his first and last role as 007).
Over the years there were so many locations in the 23 movies that it's getting harder and harder not to find spots where 007 loved his ladies, wiped out bad guys, jumped off cliffs, zipped around in gadget-packed sport cars, sipped “stirred not shaken” martinis and otherwise did everything Bond.